About 20 Kilograms of Prevention

I don’t know exactly when this blog post will actually get published, as that’s a little outside of my direct control. What I will tell you is that, as I write this, Vancouver is currently in the middle of a snow storm. We were told that this was supposed to be a mild winter and, for the most part, it has been. There were even reports of cherry blossoms started to bloom in January! But then the snow hit and the city shut down.

Welcome to Saltpocalypse

Now, you might be wondering what a winter storm in Vancouver has to do with professional blogging, Internet marketing, and making money online. Don’t worry. I’ll get there. Just indulge me here.

So, as I was saying, it’s been a relatively mild winter, aside from this week of snow that were experiencing. On the first day that the snow really started to hit, I made my way over to the Home Depot and found that they were sold out of ice melt. (You might know it as “road salt” or some other name.)

I called a handful of other stores in the area, and they all reported the same. Sold out. It feels like this happens almost every year, as if the snow storm just strikes us all out of left field. In fact, it got so bad one year that the City of Vancouver started handing out free salt to residents, but it didn’t last long. There was even a municipality that ran out of salt itself and started asking other cities and towns if they had any to spare.

It’s not like this snow comes out of nowhere. I was actually at the store just the week prior and they had plenty of salt available. But I didn’t pick up any, because I already had a bag in the garage. When the storm hit, though, my anxiety struck as I started running low on supplies. If only I had stocked up earlier, I’d save myself from all that anxiety. Or I guess we could have moved to SoCal…

The lesson here is that if I had just thought ahead and anticipated the obvious, I could’ve avoided all that stress altogether. If I had picked up a couple twenty kilo bags, I’d have plenty to survive this winter storm. It’s not like it would’ve been a huge expense and it’s not like the salt ever “goes bad” either.

VaultPress WordPress Backups

Look at this salt situation in hindsight, the solution seems so obvious. And yet so many people don’t take the same sort of preventative measures for so many other areas of their lives… including their online lives.

Do you have a blog? Do you back it up regularly? While you could certainly go through the effort of backing up the contents of your blog manually every day or every week, it’s way easier to invest in an automatic service like VaultPress.

VaultPress is made by the same people behind WordPress, so you’ll have plenty of assurance for its reliability. John recommends it and it even saved his blog at least once. The hope is that you’ll never NEED to recover your blog after some sort of catastrophic disaster, but the peace of mind knowing that you can will put your anxiety at ease.

Can you imagine losing nearly 4,000 blog posts? That’s some 14 years of hard work! Not to mention all the comments and revisions that go along with that!

Google Photos, Dropbox, NAS…

Keeping just a single copy of something is not a backup. Should anything happen to that single copy, you will have lost that data forever. Data recovery services can be incredibly expensive and they’re necessarily imperfect. They won’t be able to recover everything.

That’s why you need to keep redundant copies of everything that is important in your digital life. I’m not here to sell you on Dropbox or Google Drive or any other specific cloud-based service, but having an off-site backup of your files and photos means that if something were to happen to your home (office), you wouldn’t lose your backup.

For my part, I keep a local copy of my photos on my computer, two redundant copies on my network attached storage (NAS) configured as a RAID 1 mirror on two drives, and a copy in Google Photos. My most recent photos are also saved to Dropbox. Is this overkill? Maybe. But it also means I’ll never have to worry about losing my pictures, even if any one of these copies fails for whatever reason.

In Case Disaster Strikes

This snow storm isn’t exactly catastrophic. I think they said we got somewhere between 15 and 25 centimeters over the course of a day or two. (That’s about 6 to 10 inches.) But it does demonstrate how just a little bit of a problem can quickly balloon into a very large problem, one that could have been prevented with a little extra foresight.

John even wrote about having a disaster recovery plan for your blog more than 10 years ago, and it continues to be a common oversight by so many bloggers and online business owners. As the Boy Scouts keep saying, “Be prepared.”